The Word

When it happens, when you feel it coming, when you know it is there, the only thing left to worry about is the now. The now, the present, is only fully realized at that moment when you are ready to accept that which you see and believe. They say that human beings have a reaction time delayed to that which actually happens. But I have heard that it is possible to get closer to that moment when you are close to the moment. The trick is not easy to explain, as I have not come to that point of pure acceptance of the now.

The once and future king may have at one point. In those moments of understanding the energy flows of the world around are when it seems like it is most likely to come to an end. Balance is an appropriate term to describe the handling of reality. Yet the term reality has been raped in our time with television using it to improve ratings and schools using it to justify the delay shackles of students. Balance must be. For without balance, the ability to see it all and not lose it, you snap at the first sign of trouble. Balance can also be defined as a moderation of it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly misfortune of unexpected events. Balance can allow you the ability to live a full life, free of the fear created by all the evil, and appreciative of the goodness of man.

Choose well. And be well. There are rules out there to regulate every action. Does it not come down to an overall respect of that which you see? And when you know what you see and understand the meaning of the sight, there should be no excuse for ignorance. No excuse for being unthinking or unwilling to live for others. For, why not say one day: “I have lived for all, and all have lived for me.”

All along the watchtower

Atop this mountain is a fire watch tower with a good man named Ed keeping sight over 100 miles in all directions. The climb was grand. Snow still covered part of the trail and coyote feasted upon a marmot near the middle. The Grand Tetons are visible and if there were not a cloud in the sky would have made for a fantastic photo. Ed says that nearly 200 people a day make it to the top every day during peak season, but went on to commend them in their ability to get out of their vehicle, for so many drive through Yellowstone as they would to enjoy Burger King. Ed spends a few months keeping watch, sees endless sunsets and the storms spreading through the mountains. He says he looks forward to July when most of the falling stars decide to make their way down.

10,243 feet above sea level.

10,243 feet above sea level.

Refresh from back country

The trails and rivers are often overcome by fallen trees and branches so one of the duties of back country patrol at the beginning of summer is to clear it out with saw and muscle. Aside from that, the more important duty is to keep those who would destroy creatures and plants away from our national treasure. And of course to provide the back country camp grounds with proper security.

Rangers Kevin Dooley and Ron Sprinkle bringing horses, Pilot and Victor, back to Tower Station

Rangers Kevin Dooley and Ron Sprinkle bringing horses, Pilot and Victor, back to Tower Station

Bison-jam

There is only so much you can do here. The big ones weigh over 2000 pounds and can run up to 40 miles per hour. Those on motorcycles should avoid contact for they can be easily gored. So you wait, wait for them to decide to move, wait for them to recognize your need to pass. I feel they cause traffic jams for the simple thrill of messing with the over three million tourists that pass through every year.

They move for no man. But when one buffalo starts off the road, they all follow.

They move for no man. But when one buffalo starts off the road, they all follow.

Vehicular bear-slaughter

It was first reported near the beginning of my shift. After searching down the road, we found nothing. And then a call came in of an incident in the other direction, so we turned around. At a bear-jam an hour later a motorcyclist with jovial charm told me of the location and guided a fellow ranger, Brady, to the scene of the crime. I stood by this bear for over an hour to keep the tourists from doing something foolish and coyotes from making a mess. Such a shame. The bastards did not even report that they hit something. You can feel the fall of karma here in the Park whenever this happens. Note to tourists: PLEASE SLOW DOWN, and keep your eyes on the road.

This female black bear was killed by a hit and run near one of the roads.

This female black bear was killed by a hit and run near one of the roads.

Elk

Such an animal, its age can be estimated by the hue of white in the antler. When these are found, we cut them up, and then drive down gut road where the bones of many lie. I rode in the bed of a truck bringing this one down its narrow pass while keeping an eye out for the infamous Grizzly, one 20+ year old named “Scarface” in particular. After scattering its remains we hopped back into the truck and left the area as fast as possible.

Found near the side of the road, the remains of elk are often taken by those seeking profit.

Found near the side of the road, the remains of elk are often taken by those seeking profit.

Elysium

There was barking outside my door early in the morning. I was just about to leave for work and was running late trying to gather my gear for the day. I had been given a post, a volunteership to be more precise and the task to be an unofficial Ranger. As I walked out the door the smell of sulfur was in the air but I knew something was going on at the Tower Station. Ranger Amanda, a great smiling young woman was holding her M-16 to the tree line near the horse stable. Brady, her boyfriend, was jogging with a shotgun farther down the road. Orders were being called, but I could not understand what was going on. So I walked up the hill to the Ranger office and it was empty. I was already ten minutes late for my shift and had to find out what was going on. Apparently the dog was stirred by a black bear walking by my front door, on through to the other side of the base. The shotguns were loaded with non-lethal bags, but an M-16 was ready just in case. It was just another day at Tower Station and after some ambulance training was given a Chevy HHR to patrol the area. Aside from a cinnamon black bear crossing the road it was an uneventful day. Having the chance to drive through our sectors really put the feeling of pride in my duties. Yellowstone River runs near, buffalo herds are all over the place, and foxes have been getting too close to the road. Tourists from all over the world drive through with fingers on their point and shoot cameras, coming close to head on collisions any time a rumor of a bear sighting spreads through the airwaves. Most are decent people with gleeful expressions and traveling charm. There are occasional bad apples who wish to defy the 100 yard distance regulation and have to be dealt with swiftly else they be in a situation with a bear that they confuse with the behavior of a docile deer. Four boys were driving along the cliff road when a tire went out. Their reaction was hacky sack while awaiting assistance from someone who knew what AAA was. They were from Nebraska and were thankful for our help in calling a tow truck, no spare wheel in their car.

Over the weekend we were detailed out to a SAR (search and rescue) for a Marine veteran who disappeared into the back country three weeks ago. His name was Kastner, a mentally unstable 25 year-old Sergeant from two IED explosions in Iraq. After a failed attempt in the Nevada desert to walk until he couldn’t walk he traveled to Minneapolis where after a bar brawl beating had given up on trying to live. His story ended on the Hellroaring trail head. Abandoning his Cadillac, he walked through the wilderness to find his end. Evidence points to a man with a .45 looking not to be found but nothing is certain with a person who had reached such a point. Early on a Saturday we prepped our gear, fed the dogs, and went to find any trace of Kastner that may be left. The first dog’s name was Trace, the second, Sulla with the nickname, monster. There were others too, German Shepards and Golden Retrievers. A grid was set and the search began. Almost twenty people were involved and several dogs teams were dispatched to comb through the back country of Yellowstone National Park. Very little was found. Only a stained towel that must have been there before Kastner’s disappearance. It was a beautiful two days. I can’t figure in my wildest hypotheticals how someone could manage to choose such an end and not rethink the decision after seeing such beauty in the surrounding landscapes. The SAR soon will be called off. The land is too big to look forever. If he be in Tijuana starting anew than so be it, a little selfish for sure, but in probability is in the river or through the stomachs of scavengers. It begs the wonder of why so many young people are mentally torn apart by a conflict with no definition or end in sight. So keep on gas guzzling and see what happens. The young are the ones who suffer, not soccer moms in their Ford Excursions with license plates touting the number of children they’ve bred. I wonder how many of those children are now walking the streets of a hateful Kabul or Baghdad under the orders of pacifying an occupied nation so that they can pay for the gas they consumed on the way to their soccer games. I wonder how long it will take for any kind of realization of what is happening to our society. Call of Duty video games make war fictitious and deceive countless young into seeing the “honor” of firing a weapon upon other people. There is no turning back now. We have self-acknowledgly brainwashed ourselves into the belief that what we are doing is just and the only option. “Rejoice in thy youth.”

This is our world, this is our society and we have to fight to make sure it is just. Bombs and bullets are not the best forms of ammunition. Look around and see what is the better alternative because there are. And it is easy to see once you try.

Poor Kastner. Poor young Kastner cut down of it all.